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'Super-bummed' Chris Kluwe's farewell: 'I’ll never forget feeling Minnesota'

Kicker Blair Walsh, right, being congratulated by holder Chris Kluwe
REUTERS/Eric Miller
Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh, right, being congratulated by holder Chris Kluwe after kicking a field goal versus Jacksonville last September.

Greetings, Minnesotans! We had some good times together over the years, some fun memories, and I’m super-bummed out about having to leave the state.

When I first arrived in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, I walked out of the airport to a beat-up waiting Expedition with absolutely no idea what was in store for me.

I had just come from my rookie preseason in Seattle, where I thought I was going to be on the practice squad, and instead was informed I would be Minnesota’s starting punter going into Week One of the regular season.

I didn’t know anyone on the team. I didn’t know where anything was located. I didn’t even know who my coaches were, or that being claimed off waivers was actually a thing. The only thing I knew was that this was my chance, and I tried to make the most of it.

Eight and a half years later, I knew my coaches. I knew my teammates. I knew how to get around downtown Minneapolis, when to avoid the 35W/94 exchange, where to go for sushi, and Thai food, and steaks.

I knew friends, where they lived, what they liked to do, when we could hang out in between the busy days of the football season.

I knew that the hot summer thunderstorm months of June and July would gradually cool down to August’s brisk air, the leaves changing color as geese started appearing overhead. I knew that October and November would bring their puffy gray clouds, their flurries of snow, their cold mornings with delicate traceries of frost outlining each individual grass blade.

I knew that winter would come, and it wouldn’t leave for a while — the dreary months of January and February with the wind whipping through until I could feel my nose hairs freezing the instant I went outside and took a breath. The piled snowbanks that only seemed to grow larger, the stamping of boots anytime I had to go somewhere, the warmth of a lighted kitchen while muffled flakes gently drifted out of a dark sky.

I knew that the snow eventually did go away, even if it seemed to take forever, and that the muddy months of March and April would eventually break forth into thick green growth as the sun finally reappeared up above. I knew that these were actual seasons, so different than the eternal sunshine of Southern California, the place where I grew up and went to school.

And then, one day, I knew I had to leave. The team decided to move in a different direction. My services were no longer required, and such is the way of life in the NFL. I knew that my wife and I would have to pack up our house, bid farewell to our friends, prepare to leave behind the playset we had put into our backyard for our daughters — far too big to take back with us with its thick wood frame and plastic yellow slide. Our house had become a home over the years, and hopefully whoever takes it over treats it well.

Joe Schmit and Chris Kluwe
MinnPost photo by Jana FreibandKSTP sports anchor Joe Schmit performing with Kluwe in a skit from MinnRoast 2013 in April at the Pantages Theatre.

I knew I would leave Minnesota with all the memories eight and a half years allows you to accumulate. The delicious meals at Spice Thai in Burnsville, where they knew my order before I would even place it. The music recorded at Flowers Studio in south Minneapolis with my band, long days spent trying to capture that elusive spark of creation. Anniversary filets at Manny’s, and birthday sushi at Seven — Christmas trips to the Mall of America searching for that one perfect gift. The sight of the city skyline in the distance as I would get on 35W from Savage, heading downtown to stay at the Hilton the night before a game, talking with the security guards as we took the elevator up to the team floor. Softball games, paintball matches, zoo trips and everything else.

I will miss all of that. I will miss my teammates, my friends, my house. I will miss Minnesota, a state I never even really thought about until I was informed that I would be working there. I will miss the fans, and how loud they made the Old Inflatable Toilet during key moments, sound echoing down from that dirty old roof (back before it collapsed) and deafening the other team.

I will miss everything, but I will remember it all, and no matter how it ended, I will treasure the time I got to spend in this fine state. I may have to look California now (and I gotta be honest, the winters are a lot better) but I’ll never forget feeling Minnesota.

Farewell.

After eight seasons with the Vikings, Chris Kluwe now will be the Oakland Raiders' punter.

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Comments (12)

We Will Miss You Too, Chris

Especially that you finally laid to rest the "dumb jock" meme.

(I had seen guys like you before, walking the halls of Mahnomen Public schools back in my "good old days" as a teacher where the football team (a bunch of whom were in my high school choir) came back to school the Monday after winning the state football championship for our class the first time ever and acted as if nothing special had happened over the weekend),...

truly talented, excellent, smart, well-spoken guys without a "dumb jock" anywhere to be seen.

Stop back as often as you can. You'll always have a place here.

Good luck and blessings to you and your family in all the days to come!

Thank you, Chris

Maybe you should take up writing when the kicking gets to be something you are done with. Take up writing and summer (and spring and fall) in Minnesota. You'll always be welcome.

I agree with Rachel...

You should take up writing.

Thank you for your memories and play as a Viking; both are worth remembering. However, I will remember best your courage in standing up for your personal beliefs while being dragged through a media maelstrom that jeopardized professional career.

I am sure you will be an asset to any community your career path takes you.

He has a book out

Check Amazon...

"Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football, and Assorted Absurdities" by Chris Klewe...

http://www.amazon.com/Beautifully-Unique-Sparkleponies-Football-Absurdit...

Found it

Thanks! Now...Chris, would you autograph my Kindle?

thank you so much

What a lovely essay. Don't forget us, and come back often. We won't forget you, especially as you helped us articulate our best selves and do the right thing. We'll miss you. Peace and blessings to you and your family.

Good luck .....

Even after 8 1/2 years your punting skills never diminished, and it is a sorry shame that the Vikings management did not understand what a great community asset you became.

On the other hand, maybe they did understand the kind of impact you were starting to have in the community, and that's why they felt you had to go. And that is sad.

Best of luck in both your life and career...............

Prince, Bob Dylan, Sinclair Lewis, Charles Schulz ... and ...

Chris Kluwe. We'll always consider you a Minnesotan.

"The Old Inflatable Toilet."

This is very beautifully written. I couldn't kick a football, but Kluwe could definitely write my columns. Best of luck in Oakland.

Chris Kluwe

I'm not going to sit here and kiss this guy's butt. He's had some hard seasons in the last couple years as a Viking. I've seen him kick some good punts, but I've also seen him kick some really terrible punts, too. I wouldn't say that the Vikings are necessarily going to miss him as a performance player.

He gets paid large money, so he'll be happy where ever he goes. As a Viking supporter, I'm not upset he is leaving.

Let's see if I have this right...

Complimenting Kluwe and expressing sadness that he's going is nothing more than "kissing butt." And because Kluwe had "some hard seasons in the last couple years" he is automatically disqualified from any accolades because the focus has to be on what he didn't do and not on what he accomplished.

Forgive me for being cynical about your cynicism, Mr. Thompson, but I wonder if you would have been less harsh had Kluwe not been political.There are plenty of reasons to lament the loss of a favorite player. It doesn't always have to be "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately."

Chris Kluwe

Anyone paying attention to the man,Chris Kluwe one, can't but help feel his genuine ,heartfelt honesty. We have been blessed by getting to know and appreciate this man of the people. Brains and brawn can coexist as we have a witness to in the persona of Chris Kluwe. He will always be in many hearts and minds here in the upper Midwest. Gratitude goes to him for opening the hearts and minds of many. One just got to appreciate the generation he hails from. No longer will the bigots of earlier Times dominate with their ignorance.